To begin understanding the following topic, you need to understand what a “prolapse” is. A prolapse is when a certain part or organ within the body slips forward or down.
The cervix is typically not located straight up and centered inside of the vaginal canal. It is usually found towards the back (closer to the anus) and slightly off to one side (left or right).
This does not necessarily mean that you have a tipped or tilted cervix or prolapse. Also, keep in mind that everyone is different and will not find their cervix in the exact same location as the next person.
In most cases, an individual will not know that they have a tipped or tilted cervix or prolapse unless they feel something protruding from the vaginal canal. Otherwise, a visit to the doctor will be needed to give a proper diagnosis.
Topics Covered in This Section
Types of Prolapses
Many people experience at least one, and sometimes more, of the several types of pelvic organ prolapses, even if they may not be aware of it. There are also different degrees of prolapses. Some can, and will, correct themselves on their own, while others may need medical assistance.
1) Bladder Prolapse – Cystocele
This is the most common kind of pelvic organ prolapse. This happens when the bladder presses against the wall of the vagina.
2) Urethral Prolapse – Urethrocele
This is when the urethral tube, which carries the urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, curves and/or widens.
3) Uterine Prolapse
This happens when the uterus drops from its normal position, and allows the cervix to press further into the vagina.
4) Vaginal Vault Prolapse
This type of prolapse normally only happens after a hysterectomy. When the vagina no longer has the support from the uterus. It may drop into the vaginal canal.
5) Small Bowel Prolapse – Enterocele
This is when the small bowel presses against the wall of the vagina.
6) Rectocele – If the tissues separating the vagina and rectum are too weak, it can cause a bulge in the back wall of the vagina.
Common Causes of Prolapses
- All of these prolapses are caused by stretched or weakened ligaments, tissues, fascia and/or muscles (pelvic floor muscles) that support the pelvic area.
- It is most common for someone who has been pregnant, or has given birth, to experience one or more of these prolapses due to the strain from pregnancy or delivery.
- Breastfeeding can lessen estrogen levels and contribute to weakening the vaginal walls.
- Aging may be another factor in experiencing a prolapse: with falling estrogen levels during and after menopause, the pelvic floor may lose some of its strength and elasticity.
Many people who have a pelvic organ prolapse do not have symptoms and may not even realize the prolapse occurred. These are minor and do not cause any issues or pain.
Symptoms of Prolapses
- Pelvic pressure
- An abnormal bulge inside your vagina
- Feeling as though something is protruding out of your vagina
- A pulling or stretching in the groin area
- Lower back pain
- Painful intercourse
- Spotting or bleeding
- Urinary problems or incontinence
- Problems with bowel movements
A severe prolapse rarely gets better on its own. Speak with your doctor if you’re unsure. They may recommend that you see a special physical therapist or have surgery done to correct the prolapse and get your organs back to where they belong!
Things That Can Worsen Prolapses
- Chronic cough/allergies or sneezing
- Heavy lifting
Menstrual Cup Usage with a Prolapse
Even with a prolapse, many people have been able to use a menstrual cup successfully and without pain. The key here is to find a cup that doesn’t cause any discomfort and is still effective.
Because a prolapse can cause the vagina to be shaped differently than a “normal” vagina, it may take some trial and error to find the right cup, position, and angle. However, with the right one, it should be both possible and comfortable.
The majority of people with a prolapse of any kind have reported that a shorter and/or wider cup tends to fit better. Firmness depends on the individual, but some feel that their cups actually help support their vaginal walls rather than worsening the prolapse. You can use our menstrual cup quiz to find the right cup for you if you have a prolapse.
Can a Menstrual Cup Cause a Prolapse?
In short, yes. A menstrual cup can contribute to a slight prolapse if the cup creates a vacuum while being removed. However, since we tend to stop pulling down on the cup when we feel any pain, this would probably only be a minor prolapse in which the body can and will correct itself. To avoid any pain, discomfort, or minor prolapse, make sure to release any suction created by the cup before removing it.
Ways to release the suction:
- Avoid tugging the cup down by the stem
- Pinch the base of the cup to force out any air
- Wiggle or rock the cup back and forth while gently pulling downward
- Use a single finger to slightly compress the side of the cup
If you feel like you tugged down on your cervix too hard, discontinue using your cup for a day or two, so that your body adjusts itself back to normal.
Again, if you are unsure, please seek medical attention.